Thursday, September 23, 2021
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Everything ‘90s is new again.
Slip dresses and puffer jackets are on trend. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are back together. Willow Smith’s new album features a duet with pop-punk queen Avril Lavigne.
98 Degrees is hoping to ride that wave to renewed success. The four-man outfit — brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre — has a new single, “Where Do You Wanna Go,” whose sound and video is a cheeky throwback. It previews a forthcoming EP that will feature new songs, remixes of past hits and a collaboration with an unnamed country artist.
98 Degrees scored several hits in the late ‘90s and early aughts, including “I Do (Cherish You),” “The Hardest Thing” and “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche).” From the start, this wasn’t your average boy band. The Ohio natives came together independently before signing to Motown Records. There was no slick choreography, and they were decidedly beefier than their counterparts.
The group has recorded sporadically since 2000. Nick Lachey went on to hosting gigs and won the most recent season of “The Masked Singer.” He became a pop culture fixture alongside ex-wife Jessica Simpson on the MTV reality series “Newlyweds” and scored a solo hit with 2006’s “What’s Left of Me.”
Drew Lachey won “Dancing with the Stars” Season 2 and starred on Broadway in “Rent” and other productions. Timmons co-created Men of the Strip, sort of a PG-version of Chippendales. Jeffre ran for mayor of Cincinnati and largely stayed out of the spotlight.
All four members spoke via Zoom about the group’s new music and ‘90s memories.
Q:Why did you go the throwback route with “Where Do You Want to Go?”
Jeff: You gotta find the right song. When we first came back, we didn’t know what that was. We probably were overthinking a little bit and not being true to ourselves completely. With this song, it was a no-brainer. This sounds like a 98 Degrees song with a fresh twist, fresh production. We just thought it sounded like a summer hit.
Q: The video features lots of ‘90s fashion. Did it take you back to that era?
Drew: We’ve never left that time. There was a sense of nostalgia. You’re putting on the baggy clothes, wearing the tank tops and the bucket hats and all that stuff. But a lot of those trends are current again now, and that was part of why we felt like it was a good fit for this song.
Q: Do you see old photos and think, “Why did I wear that?”
Drew: Every day.
Justin: Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we actually agreed to wear some of that stuff.
Nick: The style is coming back. But some of it probably should never come back based on the pictures I’ve been looking at. I think we’ve always been a group that’s at least tried not to take ourselves too seriously. The video was a chance to go back and be a little bit self-deprecating and have some fun with it.
Q: Did anyone pull pieces from their closet for the new video?
Nick: The basketball jersey I wore, I think, is probably the same one I wore in the late ‘90s. That just shows I need to go ahead and clean my closet.
Drew: It might have been a little tighter through the …” (wraps hands around waist)
Q: You got back together during the pandemic?
Justin: We had been wanting to do new music when the lockdown happened. We were doing shows, and everything just got put on hold. We got the opportunity to get together and create a (COVID-19) bubble in Vegas and recorded some songs.
Drew: We’re still able to sound like 98 Degrees, but they are current-sounding songs. In the past, we’ve experimented with some stuff, and it almost seemed like we were going too far away from who we were as singers. This one seems to be sitting right in the pocket and has a really great feel to it.
Q: What are the remixes like of your older songs?
Drew: If you didn’t know the originals, they would be hits on their own. We didn’t just go and put (heavy bass) underneath it and that’s the remix. DJ Lux played with some of the structures, some of the melodic elements, brought out different lines that were afterthoughts in the original songs and made them featured parts.
Q: Was it easy to fall back into your old roles and reignite the chemistry?
Drew: Well, we don’t like each other, anyway, so it’s really easy just to keep going with that. The old cliché about riding a bike, it’s true. When we sing together, the sound comes back really quickly. We still tell the same jokes we told in the late ‘90s.
Nick: It really is all about, we pop a couple of beers and everything feels normal again. Off and running.
Q: You scored a No. 1 alongside Mariah Carey and Joe on “Thank God I Found You.” What was it like working with the ultimate ‘90s diva?
Nick: I just remember being blown away that she wanted us to be on it. Just so honored and flattered to be a part of that project. And we were also huge fans of Joe — still are.
Q: What’s everyone’ favorite Mariah song?
Jeff: Can you pick the one with Boyz II Men? Or does it have to be a solo one? “One Sweet Day” is probably my favorite one.
Justin: I’m a big fan of Mariah, so it’s hard to pick one.
Drew: Was it “Vanishing?” Is that on the first album? I always liked that one. Also, the Journey cover, “Open Arms.”
Nick: I like the song “The Roof.” That’s one of my favorite ones.
Q: Jeff, you hosted a “Free Britney Radio” day on stations across the country in support of the #FreeBritney movement. Why was that important for you?
Jeff: I think anybody that watched the “Framing Britney” documentary probably was taken aback by just how crazy everything is. That was bananas to me. We didn’t expect to do anything Earth shattering but show our support toward her and hoping that she gets away from the constraints that she’s under as quick as possible.
Q: I imagine a lot of acts from her era, when labels were cranking out pop stars, can relate to what she’s going through.
Jeff: I think that any artist can relate to what she’s been through. Or anybody in the spotlight can relate to what she’s been through as well. As you have more success, sometimes the people that surround you, your inner circle and your outer circle, begins to change and their behavior changes toward you. We experienced that, I think, at a much smaller level than she has, obviously.
Q: How quickly did any of you know that was Nick on “The Masked Singer?”
Drew: He’s got this really irritating, grating voice that once you hear it, you just know. It’s kinda like nails on a chalkboard. You know exactly what that sound is.
Nick: It’s such a bizarre concept and such a bizarre thing to be a part of. But because of that, it’s one of the more fun things that I’ve gotten to do.
Q: What memories do you have of Houston?
Drew: Growing up, my knowledge of Houston was the Oilers. I think of, like, Warren Moon and the old Oilers helmet.
Jeff: We also performed at Astroworld. That was one of our first, big amusement park performances.
Nick: We did the Rodeo, too. Another concert I remember doing there was we performed at an outdoor amphitheater (the Woodlands Pavilion). It was, like, in the woods. It was so hot and muggy. I just remember sweating like I’d never sweat before.
Monday, September 20, 2021
98 Degrees Members Preview ‘Total Relief Live’ Benefit, Invite Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake to Join Lineup
Some of the biggest stars of ’90s pop will convene in Los Angeles for a benefit concert paying homage to MTV’s “Total Request Live” era this January, and organizer Nick Lachey is ready to “roll out the red carpet” for “TRL” icons Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.
The 98 Degrees member is working with the group’s manager Johnny Wright, along with MTV, Live Nation and Spears’ former manager Larry Rudolph for the upcoming fundraiser, which will benefit hunger relief organization, Feeding America. Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean and *NSYNC’s Lance Bass are already signed on, while Lachey says further invites have “gone out to everyone.”
“I’ve reached out to a lot of our friends from those days and everyone’s super-supportive and ready to be a part of it and rally for a good cause” Lachey told Variety backstage at the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Friday. “Of course, we’ll ask Justin! When you’re talking about the biggest names of that era, you [think] Britney, Justin. We’d love to have either or both of them involved.”
“I think Britney’s got bigger stuff going on in her life,” Lachey added. “She’s newly-engaged and dealing with her conservatorship situation, but if she wanted to be a part of it, we’d be rolling out the red carpet. She was one of the iconic names of that era.”
“She’d have to un-retire first!” interjected bandmate Jeff Timmons, who recently hosted a “Free Britney Radio” pop-up station in support of Spears amid her conservatorship hearings.
Lachey hopes the evening will give fans a chance to celebrate nostalgia and music while helping Feeding America, a network of food banks which aids those in need through shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens.
“More than ever, we have to address the food insecurity in our country, so the chance to put this together in January and be a part of the night along with so many other acts from that era is something we’re looking forward to,” Lachey said.
Lachey, Timmons and bandmates Justin Jeffre and Drew Lachey gave fans a possible taste of what might be in store at the benefit gig during their Thursday night concert in Las Vegas as part of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Concerts on the Beach series. The show came as the Ohio natives wrapped up their 98 Days of Summer campaign, which featured the release of their “Summer of 98” remix EP.
“It didn’t matter if they were rock, pop, rap – we were all related by three letters: T-R-L. And, right now we want to do some of our favorite ‘TRL’ hits,” Drew Lachey said, introducing the “TRL”-themed set, which included Sugar Ray’s “Fly,” MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” and Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
The group, who confirmed to Variety that they’re recording new music, also performed Backstreet Boys smash, “I Want It That Way,” channeled the Spice Girls during “Wannabe” and rocked out to Blink 182’s “All the Small Things.”
“You haven’t really made it until people make fun of you in their music videos,” Drew Lachey said, referring to the video for the 2000 track, in which pop-punk trio Blink-182 parody boy bands.
The guys also covered “…Baby One More Time” by Spears. Having known the singer for years, they’re thrilled for her recent engagement to Sam Asghari.
“This guy has been through thick and thin with her during the toughest part of her life, so he’s probably her soulmate and we just wish her the best,” Timmons said.
As for whether the musicians have any marriage advice for the singer, Timmons and Nick Lachey jokingly pointed out they’re onto their second marriages, while Drew Lachey — who’s approaching his 21st wedding anniversary with wife Lea — had a simple pearl of wisdom.
“The best advice for any married couple is don’t listen to other people’s advice,” he said. “Every relationship is different. Listen to your spouse and know when to talk and know when to shut up.”
“Time and attention – the best ingredient of all,” added Jeffre.
“That from the guy who’s not married!” laughed Timmons.
By Lauren Huff